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Practical UNIX and Internet Security, 3rd Edition by Alan Schwartz, Gene Spafford, Simson Garfinkel

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Tips on Writing SUID/SGID Programs

If you are writing programs that are SUID or SGID, you must take added precautions in your programming. An overwhelming number of Unix security problems have been caused by SUID/SGID programs. Consider the rules described in this section in addition to those in previous sections.

  1. “Don’t do it. Most of the time, it’s not necessary.”[250]

  2. Avoid writing SUID shell scripts.

  3. If you are using SUID to access a special set of files, don’t. Instead, create a special group for your files and make the program SGID to that group. If you must use SUID, create a special user for the purpose.

  4. If your program needs to perform some functions as superuser, but generally does not require SUID permissions, consider putting the SUID part in a different program, and constructing a carefully controlled and monitored interface between the two.

  5. If you need SUID or SGID permissions, use them for their intended purpose as early in the program as possible, and then revoke them by returning the effective, and real, UIDs and GIDs to those of the process that invoked the program.

  6. If you have a program that absolutely must run as SUID, try to avoid equipping the program with a general-purpose interface that allows users to specify much in the way of commands or options.

  7. Erase the execution environment, if at all possible, and start fresh. Many security problems have been caused because there was a significant difference between the environment in which the program was run by an ...

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